The Bright Side Of Black Friday

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Everybody loves a deal.

This is the primary reason that some people are willing to endure riots, tramplings and even pepper-spray to save some money on a flat screen. It’s the same mentality when it comes to giving out some of our most personal and private information, if in return we can get some coupons. While some of our population shakes their collective heads in disbelief, this is a very true reality of modern day marketing. Black Friday is one of those days when we wind up seeing the worst in people. Those who get the deals camp out for hours on end on unforgiving cement, and those who don’t get the deals wind up trying to pick the retail shelves dry while muttering their disdain for the retailer under their breathe.

Black Friday doesn’t have to be so black.

Smiles are free. I’m sure you’ve heard that saying (or others like it). Simple things like, "please, thank you, you’re welcome, is there anything else I can do for you?, etc…" are free as well. We often forget that it’s the little things that create the best experiences. When I visit the Toronto office of Twist Image (which happens multiple times every month), I stay at a boutique hotel called, Le Germaine. While the hotel is very high-end and fancy, it should not come as a surprise that they do tons of little things too (like chocolates at night, a personalized note from the hotel manager, green apples at the front desk and on every floor). They also go a little bit further: they also remember that I like using my iPhone as my alarm clock at night, so they plug an extension chord for me from the wall to the bed. Technically, this isn’t a big hurdle for them (someone must have put it in my file and once they’re prepping my room, it’s not a complex task), but it makes me feel like I’m at home, like they care and that they care about my business (enough to mention it here, there and everywhere). How much did that little thing cost them? Not much.

Black Friday can be like that too.

If there are people lining up from three o’clock in the morning in front of your store to score a special price on a panini grill, why not make that experience as pleasant as possible? Think about what you can do:

  • Hand out some blankets.
  • Give out some coffee and little treats (what about a bake sale with the proceeds going to charity?).
  • Invite a local musician to entertain the audience (or let them busk for money!).
  • Simply walk the line and shake the hands of the people waiting for the store to open and thank them for their patronage.
  • Encourage people to connect to one another.
  • Play a fun game.
  • Give some stuff away (or create more rebates).

You get the idea.

If the sole purpose of Black Friday is for the retailers to clean their shelves or to get a whole whack of people into their stores, they can ignore the past five hundred words that I’ve written. If the real purpose of Black Friday is to get consumers to sample your retail brand by getting a special saving and then having them develop a sense of loyalty to the brand (which will lead them to positively answer Fred Reichheld‘s ultimate question), then few brands are even close to getting it right. Think about it this way: the sales and specials are going to happen anyways, why not leverage this great moment in time to actually create a great and loyalty-engendering moment?

Seems like the right (and smart) thing to do.


  1. We at RJ Julia Booksellers this year did not try to compete with any black friday promotions, we simply sent an invitation to our customers to “come home” to RJ Julia’s for complementary coffee & hot cocoa after they had a rough day at the the box stores. We love our customers because they keep us here, or at least they have so far.

  2. I recently got an email from web site guru (yes. I said it.), Gerry McGovern, in which he said, “Service is the new marketing.” I think service is one part of marketing and always has been. The difference is that the net has made word-of-mouth marketing global, instantaneous and easily findable.

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